How I Pendo Customer experience

Using in-app guidance to drive outside-app change

See how Northwoods used Pendo to help users make necessary updates outside the app for an optimized product experience


As part of its Traverse product, Northwoods provides document scanning functionality to its human services customers that’s powered by drivers external to the app. In order to ensure a strong product experience, the company needed to find a way to guide users through the process of updating these drivers.

Pendo'ing it

Northwoods experimented with Pendo’s in-app guides to see if they could successfully drive behavior outside the app. It used Pendo to alert users about the driver requirement and walk them through the update process on their devices.


By using Pendo, Northwoods was able to guide its customers through necessary external updates while deflecting any increase in support tickets stemming from confusion over the process.

Josh Wells

Instructional designer


Northwoods provides software for human services workers, helping them organize case information and make better decisions for the people and families they serve.

Pendo has really helped us to cultivate the in-app ecosystem for our users.

Giving human services workers a seamless product experience

In today’s world, being a human services worker is an unbelievably important job. It can also be an incredibly difficult one, especially when the pandemic has made it harder for social workers and case workers to meet with clients and agencies in person. This is a challenge that Northwoods, a software company specializing in human services, aims to overcome. Its Traverse product is a cloud-based document and form management software purpose built for the field that’s designed to facilitate remote work and collaboration. And Northwoods uses Pendo to make sure their customers can continue to take advantage of Traverse’s full array of features, with no speed bumps along the way. 

When creating software, it’s inevitable that developers build features or functionality that depend on elements outside of the app to work properly. Think about that latest app update on your iPhone that won’t run unless you first update your iOS. In Traverse’s case, the app provides document scanning functionality that’s powered by certain drivers on users’ devices. In order for customers to be able to scan documents, these drivers need to be installed and up to date. Northwoods pushed out a requirement to users to ensure that was the case. 

This driver requirement meant users had to go outside the app to complete the task, which made Northwoods wary that users would become confused and overwhelm its team with support ticket requests. As Josh Wells, an instructional designer at Northwoods, explained, the goal was to make sure customers prompted with the update “weren’t then automatically coming to support, or even to their own agencies’ technical support and asking what this thing is.” That’s where Pendo came in. 

Supporting users every step of the way 

In order to preempt any concerns and head off any confusion, Northwoods decided to leverage in-app guides to contextualize the requirement and walk users through the driver update process. “It let the customer know ahead of time that, when you push this button, something’s going to happen on your machine,” Wells said. “You’re going to be prompted to do something, and it’s probably going to look like something that’s not coming directly from Traverse.”

In designing the guide, Northwoods made a chance but welcome discovery: Once a user clicked through the guide to begin the driver update process, the guide would remain displayed in the background on their device screens, with the steps they needed to take still visible. It made the process that much easier for users to complete. “The customer was able to follow those steps while going through the vendor’s driver update in the foreground, get through that whole process, refresh the page, and then dismiss the steps in the Pendo guide,” Wells explained.

This meant Pendo saved both the Northwoods team and its customers from the headaches that may have resulted through other means of notification such as email. For Wells, the advantage of in-app guidance was clear. “Customers may not see an email at the time when they’re actually in the product and having to update the driver. They may delete the email. They may not read it, or they may forget the steps.” 

Thanks to its use of in-app guides, Northwoods was able to prevent a surge in support tickets and get ahead of the problem. By proactively letting its customers know what was going to happen with Traverse, the team made it that much simpler for users to make the necessary update and get back to doing the work so vital for their clients and communities. 

Pro tips

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with guides for out-of-app tasks and purposes. They can help users feel comfortable navigating external updates and give them context for what might feel like disorienting prompts  
  • Be wary of communicating vital updates exclusively via email. Choosing to prompt users within the app makes it that much more likely they’ll take action quickly and without any confusion   
  • When an in-app feature depends on an out-of-app change, don’t expect customers to immediately understand the nature of the problem. Provide context and guidance so they feel empowered to take the right action(s)